Long Leaf, Louisiana

Red River & Gulf RR

October 28-29, 2011

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Friday morning, October 28, I made the trek over to Long Leaf, LA for the annual Halloween festivities. I really had a great time doing this in 2009, but was unable to make it last year. And, this would be the first time I would run M4 for this many people. In 2009 we used motor cars and trailers. Needless to say, I was a bit excited.


Unfortunately, Michele sat this one out. She needed some downtime and sleep (not sure what that is).


I arrived at 1430 and found my buddy, Everett Lueck, in the Education Center helping Forest Rangers Doug Rhodes and Jennifer setting up a nice photo display of the Camp Claiborne Railroad (U.S. Army - WWII). The following day Doug and Jennifer would take us on a tour of the ruins of Camp Claiborne.


I arrived in Long Leaf several hours later than I'd planned and Everett had already finished the chores for the day. So, we were free to goof off. First up was a tour of the haunted house constructed under the Planner Mill.

Video at bottom of page

October 28, 2011

The haunted house under the Planner Mill

The haunted house under the Planner Mill


M4 at the Engine House

North of Long Leaf there is/was a wye at the junction of the Sieper and Lecompte Branches. These branches are long gone, but the wye remains mostly intact. However, for the past ~40 years the wye has been covered by an increasingly dense forest making it all but impossible to see. This past week the Crowell Lumber Company (founders of Long Leaf) clear-cut the trees making the wye easily accessible. So, Roger, Everett, and I grabbed our cameras and went off to do some Ferroequinearcheology.

Just south of the wye there was/is a 3-track yard. The tracks in the middle of the yard were taken out by the lumber company to get their equipment in. However, the remainder of the yard is intact. It is the plan to someday have the wye fully repaired and in service. This will give the RR&G about 3 miles of mainline.


Walking out the west

 leg of the wye

Truck from a log car

The trees over the tracks were left mostly intact, probably due to the difficulty of removing them without damaging the tracks. In fact, the Crowell's only damaged what they absolutely needed to. Thanks guys!

East leg of the wye looking northeast (left)

and southwest (right)

3/4ths of the way down the east leg there is a severe washout

Same washout

The north leg is still

buried in the treeline

Looking west along the east

leg of the wye

After tracing the east leg all the way to the east switch, we drove around the far end of the west leg to find that switch. Because the area looks so different without the forest, it took a good hour to find it.




Everett standing between the north and east legs of the wye, just east of the west switch.



Upon our return to Long Leaf we watched a play in the Planner Mill entitled "My Mummy is an Alien" that was put on by a local theatre troupe. This was part of the plot that would follow Saturday night. The jambalaya that was served was excellent. It seems like no matter where my railroad travels take me (Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana), the food is always awesome.


October 29, 2011

The next morning Everett and I ran over to Glenmora for some breakfast. On the way out of Long Leaf I saw this sight just east of the crossing and had to stop for a few photos!

What a Heavenly sight!

Glorious morning light on the rails of the Red River & Gulf just east of the main road crossing.

Heading back to Long Leaf after getting some chow in Glenmora I found a "Grande" sight!

Later that morning we met up with Forest Rangers Doug Rhodes and Jennifer to tour the ruins of Camp Claiborne which was formed just before WWII to train the U.S. Army railroad battalion.


The first stop was the location of the primary flag pole on the base. A stub pole has been erected by the Forest Rangers. It's become common in recent years for family and friends to leave notes and mementoes of lost and injured servicemen. The Forestry Service collects and stores the items left there.


This is the site of the flag pole across

from the Headquarters' Building


Forest Ranger Doug Rhodes

Concrete safe from

the post bank

The bank is LONG gone, but the safe

remains as an enduring landmark

This is another safe, but the rangers didn't know what had been here. It's assumed it was some sort of civilian-operated retail center.

The "roads" here are nearly covered by the forest today.

It's pretty hard to visual

40,000 men living and working here 70 years ago.

This was the post gas station. You can make out the circular driveway on the left, main road on the right.

The gas station as seen from the opposite direction.

The largest structure still standing is

the waste water treatment plant

Looking out from one

of the waste water tanks.

Looking into one the tanks.

Looking out of another tank.

This site would be IDEAL for a movie set. It's got a nostalgic... creepy air about it.

Everett inspects the remains

of the water treatment

office building.

Inside the office building


Another tank

Pump house

Telegraph Pole

Retaining wall for freight dock


Railroad tie, very few remain.

This was the Engine House

 The concrete structure on the right held a large fuel tank.

The "curb" here denotes a drop pit in the engine house. It's filled in over the decades.

I'm standing at the back wall of the Engine House, the forest rangers are less than halfway across this massive structure.

After leaving the Engine House, we drove out to "Big Cut" where the Camp Claiborne Military Railroad crossed over the Red River & Gulf.

This first photo is looking down into the cut onto the RR&G RoW. I underestimated just how BIG the Big Cut would be. It's at least 40'!!

South side bridge abutment.

Horse riders on the RR&G grade

Heading back from Big Cut along the Camp Claiborne grade. It may be hard to see, but we're on a fill that is at least 30' high. Some very serious engineering and effort went to creating this railroad. And, believe it or not, it was only around for 5 years! The Army felt it had accomplished it's mission after the war and in 1946 the base and railroad were shut down and scrapped. Almost nothing remains today...


After the tour, we went back to Long Leaf and heard a couple of seminars about the Louisiana Maneuvers that were conducted in the area prior to the U.S. entry into WWII. I'm a bit of a WWII history buff, but have to admit that I'd never heard of this. It was quite an education!


Afterwards it was time to get down to the business at hand; running the M4 for paying passengers.

Roger moved the M4 out of the Engine House and over to the Commissary where Everett gassed her up with diesel.

Fernwood, Columbia, & Gulf Railroad

Motorcar M4 at the Commissary.

Looking over the UP mainline towards the RR&G mainline.

Looking over the UP mainline towards the Commissary. 4-5 trains a day blast through Long Leaf.



"Louisiana Jones" was the star of the evening. He saved hundreds of guests from a horde of cursed Egyptians mummies.



Yours truly.

Overalls are surprisingly comfortable!!


Before our first run of the night, the staff fed us a rocking gumbo dinner. It was easily the best gumbo I've ever had outside of my mom's kitchen (no one can beat mom!). The crew for the evening was: Bill Ward, Roger West, and I. We each took turns as Conductor, Engineer, and Brakeman. Roger's wife Melinda, assisted off and on. Everett got stuck playing the part of Indiana... err... I mean "Louisiana Jones." We hauled a few hundred passengers on Saturday, most of which screamed at least once! A great time was had by all.


 The M4 needs a lot of work to get her FRA certified and I'm looking forward to being a part of the team doing the work this winter. More on that later...


Video Compilation from October 29

Crew Members:  Everett Lueck, Roger West, Bill Ward, and Jason Rose